common art

Common Art is a ministry of common cathedral, which provides space, materials and caring support staff to the homeless population of Boston, Massachusetts to develop their artistic abilities.

common art

“I came for the art….and I stayed for the love.”
— DS, longtime common art artist

Welcome to common art - a program of common cathedral which provides space, materials and caring support staff to support unhoused and low income individuals as they develop their artistic abilities. People who live in shelters, rooming houses, on unclaimed couches and benches, and on Boston's streets, gather every Wednesday at Emmanuel Church on Newbury Street to draw, paint, sculpt, make crafts, and to share with other artists in like circumstances.

For most members, common art is a singular chance to express their artistic gifts. For some, art is a professional path, interrupted and suspended by calamity and homelessness. For otheres, its an opportunity to express unheard opinions, ideas and truths. For others, its pure joy, an oasis of form and color in otherwise dry times. For all, its a simple and welcome relief from daily difficulty.

For many common art members, art is a way of life. For others, its a new discovery. But for all, art is passion, expressing and affirming life itself, a defiant or gentle "yes" in the face of stigma amid the constant struggle of poverty and homelessness.

common art was begun in 1999 by a group of un-housed men and women with the assistance of ministers from St. John the Evangelist Church on Bowdoin Street. From its inception, the mission guiding common art has been to serve individuals within Boston's poor and homeless communities by providing resources and opportunities for creating and participating in the arts. This is a wonderful opportunity within the Boston community. As one person expressed, "common art is famous! Everybody knows about it on the street!"

In its present form, common art works both to promote access to the arts for its members and to help facilitate the expression of members' artistic gifts. In this way, common art acknowledges the dignity of all human beings and honors the divine creativity within each person. Through proactive advocacy, common art provides companionship and inclusive community, a place to come together and to share with other artists. common art embraces all artistic expression as healing and healthful, affirming of life itself. As Shaun McNiff of Lesley College expressed in his book Art as Medicine, "Whenever illness is associated with loss of soul, the arts emerge spontaneously as remedies, as soul medicine." common art is guided by this profound understanding.

common art is open to all.

common art meets once a week, on Wednesday from 10am to 2pm at Emmanuel Church Parish Hall, 15 Newbury Street, Boston.

A typical gathering includes 40- 75 artists along with volunteers, interns and staff people. Artists are provided with materials and space to draw, write, paint, sculpt, make stained glass, jewelry and other crafts. They are served breakfast and lunch.


Quotes from the Artists

“I don’t know what I would do without you guys and this program.”
”I just feel like its such a privilege for me to be able to come here each week.”
”I don’t really have anything to look forward to except for Wednesday and common art.”
”I would like to give back 25% of this money to say thanks and help keep common art going.”
”Thank you so much for helping us sell our work each week. It’s great.

common art members have exhibited their work together and individually in Boston's art and faith communities since 2001, including an exhibition staged at the Massachusetts State House in March 2003 and again in 2013, and at the United Nations in 2014.

Our artists continue to be eager to exhibit their work in churches, public buildings (libraries, cafes, other places of business and industry). Please contact the common cathedral office if you are interested in supporting such an exhibit.